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The Pitch That Lasts: The Video Strategy
Many a salesperson has been faced with the no-face-time problem. You come across what seems like a perfect prospect, one you know has a real need for your product or service and the wherewithal to become a big client, but they absolutely won’t give you the time of day, much less an appointment.    Have no fear. There’s a tactic that I guarantee will work every time you use it. This technique will require some extra work on your part and is a little sneaky, but it’s a foolproof way to compel Mr. Big to listen to your presentation.   I guarantee that Mr. Big will view your presentation if you record it on an unlabeled DVD, put it in a plain brown wrapper, and send it addressed to him personally at his home. Note the most important detail: Neither the DVD nor the package reveals anything about the contents. If Mr. Big is human, curiosity will drive him to see what’s on the disc. It’s human nature—that old curiosity works every time.

Why does this technique work? I think one reason is because it’s so different from what the great crowd of “normal” salespeople do. Most salespeople he won’t see send presentation folders and brochures and personal letters with proposals. Those that he does see are often armed with laptops and identical presentation software. They all tend to look and sound alike.

Your video is just another selling medium—the difference is that your version has obviously been prepared just for this particular prospect at some considerable effort. It demonstrates the creative seller’s willingness to work hard for the business.

Another reason is that the medium itself, video, is the next best thing to a personal sales presentation. The prospect can see the steadiness in the seller’s gaze, hear the sincerity in their voice, and get caught up in their enthusiasm for the idea. You just can’t do those things in a letter.

When you use this technique, be sure to execute the entire plan exactly as I presented it. Don’t send a cover letter. Don’t even have a return address on the package or a label on the DVD. And under no circumstances send a copy of your written proposal along with it. You can send these things under separate cover to arrive a few days after the DVD if you need to. The full impact of the curiosity factor will be lost if the prospect even suspects what the video is about.

The video needs to be playable on a dedicated DVD player, by the way, not just a computer. In fact, DVD is preferable since many people are justifiably reluctant to stick unlabeled media into their computers from fear of viruses. The same is true for storing the video online and emailing Mr. Big an anonymous link. I wouldn’t click on that, would you? The home DVD player is generally isolated, though, so your DVD can be seen without concern.

And send the tape to the prospect’s home if you possibly can—in that plain brown wrapper. It will receive a heck of a lot more attention there than if it lands in his office in-box with the daily junk mail. Besides, Mr. Big is much more likely to have a DVD player at home than he is at work. To get the prospect’s home address, start with the telephone book white pages. If you can’t find it there, ask the screener (you never know until you try). If you can’t find his home address, go ahead and send it to the office.

Nothing to Lose

Whenever I advise a client to use the videotape technique, the negatives start rushing around in their brain. There’s a simple positive answer to every one of them:

  • “I don’t have a camera.” Buy, rent or borrow a camera with a built-in light and microphone.  And don’t forget a tripod to ensure a shake-free picture.
  • “I’m not a TV star.” Don’t try to be—just make your presentation as if the camera were Mr. Big. You can ad-lib or even use cue cards if you’re a little camera shy.
  • “I’ll feel silly.” If you’re embarrassed about selling, get a new career.
  • “It won’t look professional.” Don’t try to film “Gone with the Wind,” just sit comfortably in front of the camera and talk.
  • “He may not have a VCR.” If he’s one of the less than 5 percent of Americans who don’t, he’ll find one.

If you’re going to be a creative seller, you’ve got to take a chance every once in a while. Work outside the box, as they say. Try something different, you might like it. Besides, what have you got to lose—he won’t even see you, right? 

 

Dave Donelson distills the experiences of hundreds of entrepreneurs into practical advice for small business owners and managers in the Dynamic Manager's Guides, a series of how-to books about marketing and advertising, sales techniques, hiring, firing, and motivating personnel, financial management, and business strategy.

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